Employees at a Deere & Co. plant in Iowa taunted an African American co-worker with racial slurs, according to a discrimination lawsuit filed against the agricultural manufacturer.
Forty-eight-year-old Copa Burse, a mother of three, alleged the Deere plant in Ankeny failed to stop racially discriminatory behavior, including threats, despite knowing it was occurring.
Workers at the plant painted racial slurs on the African American woman’s work locker and taunted her, according to the lawsuit. Last year, Burse returned home from work to discover a doll — which had a face painted black — hung from her garage door accompanied by profanity-laced graffiti telling her to quit her job “or else.”
“My kids were so scared they didn’t want to sleep here [Monday] night,” she told the Des Moines Register at the time. “They went to stay with their dad. That’s got to stop. That’s not how it’s going to be.”
Deere spokesman Ken Golden told the Associated Press that the company did not tolerate discriminatory behavior and investigates employee complaints.
The lawsuit also claims that other black employees had complained about racist behavior. Rather than address the issue, the Deere plant hired more black employees “as a means to cover the pattern of discrimination, or perhaps, it its own way, try to remedy it,” the lawsuit states.
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